For those suffering depression, sometimes the prospect of taking antidepressants or other chemically manufactured drugs can be undesirable. Some simply have no results from the traditional medications that they try.
Natural cures for depression have become more popular as people seek to find affordable and healthy alternatives.
Unfortunately, studies on natural cures for depression are few and inconclusive.
There is currently little or no scientific evidence to show that most of these remedies work and those that show promise are almost exclusively limited to mild or moderate cases of depression.
Nonetheless, many of these alternatives have proven very successful in practice and many people are quite pleased with their results.
Herbs and Supplements
Most herbal cures and supplements for depression work in one of two ways – either by increasing or decreasing certain chemicals in the brain related to mood (such as serotonin) or by relieving health conditions that are linked with an increase in the likelihood of depression (such as poor circulation). Some of these herbs and supplements are as follows:
- St. John’s Wort
- Folic Acid
- SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine)
- 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)
- Ginko Biloba
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Herbs and supplements have a risk of creating side effects and can be dangerous if mixed with other medications or certain health conditions. Therefore, a doctor should always be consulted before using them.
The more studies that are done, the more doctors are coming to realize the importance of diet in relation to mood. Many forms of depression are linked to deficiencies such as vitamin B6 and magnesium which can be improved by the proper alterations in diet. Certain substances, such as foods high in sugar or caffeine, can create highs and lows which will increase the intensity of depression during certain periods. Other mood-altering substances, such as alcohol, should be avoided.
Exercise is quickly proving to be one of the most effective natural methods for treating depression. Regular exercise releases endorphins (mood-enhancing chemicals) into the brain and produces a positive effect on one’s mood. Other ways that exercise helps with depression are peripheral but just as important:
- Self-confidence gain from looking better
- The feeling of accomplishing a goal
- Diverting one from depression-oriented thoughts
- Overall increase in health and energy levels
- Reduction in sleep problems such as insomnia
Exercise need not be a workout at the gym. Any type of physical activity will have the same effect. Some chose to use dancing, home construction projects or sports as an option for maintaining an exercise routine.
This method of natural depression relief is mainly for those suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Exposure to light first thing in the morning helps the body to regulate its sleeping and waking cycles properly and begins the day’s production of serotonin. A quick walk after waking can be the perfect way to get the light needed fight against the encroachment of depressive thoughts. Indoor lights which simulate natural daylight are also available to use in light therapy.
Massage has a number of health benefits aside from simply relaxing the body. Massage both promotes the removal of toxins from the body and reduces stress. Human contact has been shown to relieve stress as well. Many massage therapists specialize in depression-relief techniques and combine some of the other natural cures for depression listed below (such as music therapy or aromatherapy) with their massage routines.
Other Natural Cures For Depression
Most of these other treatments work by relieving stress and promoting an overall general improvement in health. Many of them utilize the mind-body connection premise, which states that the mind and body are intimately linked and what happens to one aspect affects the development of the other. Thus, if one’s body is relaxed then the mind does not worry as much.
- Acupuncture – A Chinese medicinal technique that uses needles inserted into the body at certain locations to remove energy blockages. This treatment has proven effective in other areas as well, including headache and arthritis relief.
- Aromatherapy – Using certain smells, via burning or vaporizing, to promote relaxation.
- Music Therapy – Listening to music has shown to reduce feelings of fear, anxiety and stress.
- Hypnosis – Used to focus one’s thoughts into a particular direction in order to promote the recognition of and solving of depression-related problems.
- Reflexology – Applying pressure to certain points on the hands and feet to stimulate the nerves and induce relaxation in other areas of the body.
- Meditation – A relaxation technique that has been used for thousands of years to clear the head of unwanted and negative thoughts while decreasing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the chemicals associated with stress.
- Yoga – Used to help relieve stress and, contrary to what many people think, yoga is also a somewhat vigorous form of exercise.
Most people find themselves applying a number of these various remedies to help deal with their depression. Some combine these techniques with the more traditional natural cures for depression such as antidepressants and psychotherapy. Alone or in combination, these various natural cures have proven to be effective in helping many people deal with and eventually get past their depression.